Canada Reads: Battle of Alberta
Featuring Jessica Johns, Naheed Nenshi, Dallas Soonias & Teresa Wong
Memorial Park Library, 2nd Floor
1221 2 St SW
SOLD OUT IN RECORD TIME! Click here to join the waitlist. (Thank you, Wordfesters, for your remarkable support. Please encourage your friends and family to sign up for our e-blast to make sure they're the first to hear about even more stellar authors coming to Calgary this year.)
Join Wordfest as we celebrate the Albertans competing in Canada Reads 2024 with an in-depth, insider conversation enlivened by friendly competition. This is a unique opportunity to engage with Edmonton-based Bad Cree author Jessica Johns, her book’s champion Dallas Soonias, Denison Avenue's champion Naheed Nenshi, and Calgary's Teresa Wong (who graciously agreed to stand in for Toronto-based author Christina Wong) before the official Canada Reads competition begins on CBC March 4-7.
This special event, hosted by Wordfest's Creative Ringleader Shelley Youngblut, is meant to be interactive: we know you have questions, we have a photographer to take selfies, and Jessica would love to personalize Bad Cree for you. Owl’s Nest Books will be on site with precious copies of both titles vying to become "the one book that carries us forward."
We are grateful to ECW and HarperCollins Canada for their support. And brava to Canada Reads for sparking even more engagement with Canadian stories.
About Bad Cree
A haunting debut novel where dreams, family and spirits collide.
Mackenzie, a Cree millennial, wakes up in her one-bedroom Vancouver apartment clutching a pine bough she had been holding in her dream just moments earlier. When she blinks, it disappears. But she can still smell the sharp pine scent in the air, the nearest pine tree a thousand kilometres away in the far reaches of Treaty 8.
Mackenzie continues to accidentally bring back items from her dreams, dreams that are eerily similar to real memories of her older sister and Kokum before their untimely deaths. As Mackenzie's life spirals into a living nightmare — crows are following her around and she's getting texts from her dead sister on the other side — it becomes clear that these dreams have terrifying, real-life consequences. Desperate for help, Mackenzie returns to her mother, sister, cousin, and aunties in her small Alberta hometown. Together, they try to uncover what is haunting Mackenzie before something irrevocable happens to anyone else around her.
Haunting, fierce, an ode to female relations and the strength found in kinship, Bad Cree is a gripping, arresting debut by an unforgettable voice.
About Jessica Johns
Jessica Johns is a queer nehiyaw aunty with English-Irish ancestry and a member of Sucker Creek First Nation. Her debut novel, Bad Cree, was shortlisted for the Amazon First Novel Award, won the MacEwan Book of the Year prize. She lives in Edmonton.
About Champion Dallas Soonias
Dallas Soonias is a former Canadian national volleyball star and current CBC Sports contributor. Soonias is Cree/Anishinaabe and lives in Calgary.
About Denison Avenue
Finalist for the 2024 Carnegie Medals for Excellence through the American Library Association, Denison Avenue is a moving story told in visual art and fiction about gentrification, aging in place, grief, and vulnerable Chinese Canadian elders.
Bringing together ink artwork and fiction, Denison Avenue by Daniel Innes (illustrations) and Christina Wong (text) follows the elderly Wong Cho Sum, who, living in Toronto’s gentrifying Chinatown-Kensington Market, begins to collect bottles and cans after the sudden loss of her husband as a way to fill her days and keep grief and loneliness at bay. In her long walks around the city, Cho Sum meets new friends, confronts classism and racism, and learns how to build a life as a widow in a neighbourhood that is being destroyed and rebuilt, leaving elders like her behind.
A poignant meditation on loss, aging, gentrification, and the barriers that Chinese Canadian seniors experience in big cities, Denison Avenue beautifully combines visual art, fiction, and the endangered Toisan dialect to create a book that is truly unforgettable.
About Champion Naheed Nenshi
Naheed Nenshi served as the Mayor of Calgary for three consecutive terms between 2010 and 2021. His leadership saw an unprecedented investment in transportation and infrastructure as well as the completion of the Central Library and the transformation of government to become more efficient and customer focused. He also saw the City of Calgary through four states of emergencies including the 2013 floods and the COVID-19 pandemic. A proud first-generation Canadian of Indian ancestry, he lives in Calgary.
About Teresa Wong
Teresa Wong is the author of the graphic memoir Dear Scarlet: The Story of My Postpartum Depression, a finalist for The City of Calgary W.O. Mitchell Book Prize and longlisted for CBC Canada Reads 2020. Her comics have appeared in The Believer, The New Yorker, McSweeney’s, and Event Magazine. She is thrilled to be able to stand in for Christina Wong for this event.